Grim New World?

Are we heading for a Grim New World?  It looks like it, from two short articles that I have...

Of Badgers, Cattle, And Bovine TB

In recent years in Britain, we have heard much about bovine tuberculosis, which affects a wide...

A Post-Truth Society?

As some of you may be aware, even on the western seaboard of the Atlantic, Theresa May is shortly...

Obama, Ancestry, and DNA

On the 23rd of April, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America (fanfare!) issued...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Sascha Vongehrpicture for Helen Barrattpicture for Hontas Farmerpicture for Kim Womblespicture for Abhas Mitra
Robert H OlleyRSS Feed of this column.

Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

I would describe myself as a Polymer Morphologist. I am not an astronaut,

... Read More »


What do you say to Pluto’s demotion to “dwarf planet” status?  I did not approve of the demotion, but a few days ago our BBC Sky at Night team did give a reasonable reason why it does require a new category.  With Neptune, one can say “planets end here”, while Pluto is the first of many bodies such as the remarkable Eris that we now know inhabit the Kuiper Belt. 

Pluto really does seem to have captured people’s imagination.  With the announcement that the (dwarf) planet is larger than we thought, a neighbour was asking me how one measured its size.

This got me looking up some values in Pluto Is Larger Than Thought, Has Ice Cap, NASA Probe Reveals, from

The new measurement of Pluto is 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) across

The previous estimate from Earth was 1,430 miles (2,301 km).

We have already had a view from the Mediterranean of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon in Seeing Jupiter In Daylight.  Jupiter and Venus are getting closer together in the sky, and on the 1st of July, at around 8:00 UTC, actual conjunction will occur, when the two planets are at the same Ecliptic longitude (referring the annual path taken by the Sun against our stellar background.)  At that time, the planets will be below the Horizon for New World observers.

I saw this in today’s Daily Mail:

Landmark discovery about the brain 'will have scientists rewriting textbooks' - and could help treat conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's

and here is a copy of the University of Virginia press release for your interest:

Researchers Find Textbook-Altering Link Between Brain, Immune System